National News

Two-child benefit limit pushes families further into poverty

The Child Poverty Action Group (CCPAG) together with the Church of England, Women’s Aid, Turn2Us and the Refugee Council have published a new report looking at the impact of the two-child limit.

Among its findings are:

  • About 160,000 families have been affected already; most are working families and most have three children.
  • As a result of this policy, 300,000 children will be pushed into poverty and one million children, already in poverty, will be pushed even deeper into poverty by 2023/24.
  • Of the 430 families we surveyed, 95 per cent said that the two-child limit had affected their ability to pay for basic living costs, including 88 per cent who said it had affected their ability to pay for food and clothing. Families are facing severe and ongoing financial difficulty and being forced into debt just to cover basic living costs each month.
  • Victims of domestic abuse are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of the two-child limit.
  • Refugees affected by the two-child limit are likely to have arrived in the UK with next to nothing, and the two-child limit hinders their ability to rebuild their lives after traumatic experiences.
  • Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities are also disproportionately affected by the two-child limit.

You can read the full report as an online pdf here

You can read more about CPAG’s All Kids Count campaign here

Prosper North

First Deadline 5th August

A new, free business support programme for culture and heritage organisations to help them become stronger, more impactful, and make the most of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund investment opportunity

Prosper North’s aims are to improve the capabilities of around 80 cultural heritage organisations in the North of England– from music venues to community art groups, and independent museums to literature festivals – to increase income and impact, becoming more resilient businesses. It is aligned with the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund (NCRF), managed by the Key Fund, which is offering social investments (mix of grant and loans) to creative and cultural organisations in the north of England who deliver positive social impacts.

Between May 2019 and May 2021, 3 cohorts of participants will benefit from a series of free workshops on subjects such as business modelling, social investment and change management, and one-to-one business advice. There will be three enrolment points over the 2 year period: September 2019, March 2020 and September 2020.

If you are looking to start the programme in September, please submit your application by 5 August 2019.
Applications for the other editions of Prosper North will be open until August 2020.

You can find more information here

Using Technology: Start Somewhere 

An exploratory study by IVAR and CAST into making technology imaginable and usable for small voluntary organisations has found that although many organisations are keen to engage with ‘tech’, they don’t always know where to access appropriate support or have the time to learn how to practically implement and use it.

Study findings include tips and advice from small voluntary organisations on overcoming the barriers to using technology; pointers for support organisations; and things for funders to think about – such as how they can support infrastructure, training and experimentation costs associated with ‘digital transformation’

For more information go the IVAR website

Helping asylum seekers to access higher education

STAR (Student Action for Refugees) is a national charity of 27,000 students welcoming refugees to the UK.

Together they:

  • Volunteer at local refugee projects
  • Campaign to improve the lives of refugees
  • Educate people about refugees and asylum

STAR is made up of 46 groups at universities and colleges across the UK and a national team which co-ordinates and supports the groups. STAR groups are students’ union societies which are affiliated to the charity.

The Star Network website lists all the universities and organisations that offer scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and reduced fees to help people who have claimed asylum in the UK access higher education.

You can check the list here

Austerity and inequality fuelling mental illness, says top UN envoy

From the Guardian

Austerity, inequality and job insecurity are bad for mental health and governments should counteract them if they want to face up to the rising prevalence of mental illness, the UN’s top health envoy has said.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to coincide with a hard-hitting report  delivered to the UN in Geneva on 24th June, Dr Dainius Pūras said measures to address inequality and discrimination would be far more effective in combatting mental illness than the emphasis over the past 30 years on medication and therapy.

“This would be the best ‘vaccine’ against mental illness and would be much better than the excessive use of psychotropic medication which is happening,” said Pūras, who as the UN’s special rapporteur on health reports back to the UN human rights council in Geneva.

He said that since the 2008 financial crisis, policies that accentuated division, inequality and social isolation have been bad for mental equilibrium. “Austerity measures did not contribute positively to good mental health,” he said. “People feel insecure, they feel anxious, they do not enjoy good emotional wellbeing because of this insecurity situation.”

You can read the rest of the news article here

You can read the full report here

NHS to launch young people’s gambling addiction service

The first NHS gambling clinic for children will open this year as part of a new network of services for addicts being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The move comes amid growing concern that the scourge of problem gambling is being fuelled by online gaming sites and targeted adverts, NHS England say.

Hundreds of thousands of people in England have a serious problem with gambling, with an additional two million at risk of developing a disorder.

The number of children classed as having a gambling problem is 55,000, according to the Gambling Commission.

The Commission also found that 450,000 are gambling regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, drunk alcohol or smoked.

Specialist face-to-face NHS treatment for gambling addiction has only been available in London but is being made available across the country as part of the Long Term Plan.

Up to 14 new NHS clinics are being opened – starting with the NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds this summer, followed by Manchester and Sunderland.

The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London will also offer specialist help for children and young people aged 13 to 25 as part of an expansion which will also ramp up treatment for adults.

For more information go to NHS England

CQC Adult inpatient survey 2018

Findings from the Care Quality Commissions (CQC’s) latest annual survey of people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital, published on 20th June, show that most people had confidence in the doctors and nurses treating them and felt that staff answered their questions clearly.

However, across the majority of questions asked in the survey there has been no improvement since it was last carried out, and this year’s results show an increase in those reporting lengthy delays, greater dissatisfaction with the amount of information provided when leaving hospital, and those who felt a lack of involvement in their care.

Less than half of people surveyed (48%) rated their overall hospital inpatient experience as ‘nine or above’ out of ten which is down from 50% in 2017 and marks an end to the trend of year on year improvement previously seen for this question.

The results of the 2018 inpatient survey, involving 144 NHS acute trusts in England, reveal what over 75,000 adults who had stayed in hospital for at least one night during July last year said about the care they received.

The survey asked people to give their opinions on the care they received, including quality of information and communication with staff, whether they were given enough privacy, the amount of support given to help them eat and drink, and on their discharge arrangements.

The responses to the 2018 survey show that patients admitted as an emergency reported a particularly poor experience of receiving information. Nine per cent said they had not been given “any” information about their condition and treatment while in A&E (8% in 2017) and 17% said they had not been given “enough” information 15% in 2017). In addition, responses were less positive across many question areas for younger patients (under 50-years old) and for those with a mental health condition.

As well as a report of the national findings, CQC has published the results for each of the 144 individual trusts that took part, and a report identifying those trusts that have performed better or worse across the survey overall, so that people can see how their local services performed.

For more information go to the CQC website

Smiling matters: oral health care in care homes

A new report from the CQC publishes their findings from a review of the state of oral health care in care homes across England.

Between October 2018 and January 2019 the CQC’s dental inspectors attended 100 care homes inspections and spoke to many members of staff, people who use services and their families.

The report on what they found on those inspections, includes examples of good, joined-up practice between care homes and dentists, although this was not common. This comes three years after the publication of NICE guidance on oral health in care homes.

Key findings include:

  • The majority (52%) of care homes visited had no policy to promote and protect people’s oral health
  • 73% of residents’ care plans reviewed only partly covered or did not cover oral health at all – homes looking after people with dementia being the most likely to have no plan in place
  • Nearly half (47%) of care homes were not providing any staff training to support people’s daily oral healthcare
  • 17% of care homes said they did not assess people’s oral health on admission

The report includes six recommendations and calls for a cross-sector approach to overcome concerns raised through this review. The recommendations also include a call for mandatory staff training in oral care, oral health check-ups for all residents upon admission, better signposting to local dental services and the convening of a multi-agency group tasked with raising awareness among people living in care homes, their families and carers of the importance of day-to-day dental hygiene and the need for routine check-ups.

Read the full report and summary here

Life expectancy seems to be faltering

From the Guardian

For the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in western Europe – and doctors and experts believe that the impact of austerity is a major factor

A team of researchers, statisticians and geographers are gathering at University College London to tackle an issue of increasing concern for doctors and health experts. They will investigate why many UK citizens are now living shorter, less healthy lives compared with the recent past.

The emergence of faltering life expectancy in Britain has caused particular alarm because it reverses a trend that has continued, almost unbroken, for close to 100 years. Over this period, lives have lengthened continuously, blessing more and more British people with the gift of old age.

But now that increase has come to a halt, statisticians have discovered. Indeed, among many sections of the UK population, declines have set in. Hence the meeting, organised by the British Society for Population Studies, which has been organised so delegates can use data – to be released this week by the Office for National Statistics – to update their life expectancy projections.

Statisticians first noticed in 2013 that rises in life expectancy in the UK had begun to slow down. Gradually, the graph – which been rising for decades – flattened out until, a few years ago, it started to decline for increasing numbers of people. The elderly, the poor and the newborn were worst affected. For example, life expectancy for those over 65 has dropped by more than six months.

To read the full article go to the Guardian

Gove to introduce ‘Natasha’s Law’

A new law will require food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced today in a drive to protect the country’s two million food allergy sufferers.

Following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette, the Environment Secretary confirmed legislation will be brought forward by the end of summer to strengthen allergen labelling rules.

Under current laws, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information in writing, meaning allergy sufferers sometimes lack confidence buying food out.

The new legislation, known as ‘Natasha’s Law’, will tighten the rules by requiring foods that are pre-packed directly for sale to carry a full list of ingredients – giving allergy sufferers greater trust in the food they buy.

For more information go to the Government website